How I Clean My Smelly Headphones (Beginners Guide!)

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Headphones have been an essential part of our life since the invention of the Walkman. It’s critical to keep your headphones clean, not just for your appearance but also for your ear health. Ear infections may be prevented by cleaning them. At the same time, you don’t want to use sweaty headphones since they won’t be comfortable. This is how I clean my smelly headphones.

To clean smelly headphones, remove the cushioned inserts from the headphones and clean them with hydrogen peroxide using cotton swabs to eliminate the odor. Make sure the insides of the headphones are also clean. Use hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, and wet wipes to remove harsh smells and stains. Wipe them down with a microfiber cloth.

Read on for a guide on how you can clean your headphones. The remedies I have covered are for the wired earbuds you can use for exercise and sleeping and the Bluetooth over-the-ear headphones for work.

How I Clean My Smelly Headphones
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How Do You Prepare Your Headphones for Cleaning?

Gather all of the materials you’ll need to get rid of unwanted odors from your headphones before you begin. Here’s a quick summary of some of the cleaning supplies you’ll need for the task:

Once everything is available, proceed to the next step to remove the gross smell and sweat from your headphones.

How I Clean My Smelly Headphones

1. Remove Padded Inserts

Remove any detachable parts from your headphones. Remove the detachable buds and lay them aside to prevent them from rolling around. Many over-the-ear headphones have removable cushioned inserts. Because a lot of sweat becomes trapped in hard-to-reach places, removing everything is crucial.

To disclose the inner layer, you should try to flip everything inside out. Everything is absorbed through to the bottom substance, which is why surface cleaning is ineffective. It makes no difference how clean the appearance is; the troubles begin with the interior.

2. Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Expel the Smell

Because hydrogen peroxide is inherently antibacterial, it will eliminate any foul odors from your headphones and earbuds. Instead of soaking your headphones in the solution, combine it with water and clean them with cotton swabs. This procedure will keep them from being too wet, which might cause them to spoil.

Because it includes rubbing alcohol, you may also use hand sanitizer. During this phase, you may use any of the cleaning items mentioned above. Use the cotton swabs to scrape out earwax, sweat stains, and anything else that shouldn’t be in your headphones.

3. Scrub Headphone Pads with Detergent and Water

Detergent is produced with beautiful smelling components to clean your clothing, so why not add it to your headphones as well? Only use a little pinch of detergent in two glasses of water since only a little goes a long way.

Scrub the detachable headphone pads carefully with a sponge dipped in the mixture. If you’re concerned about the earbud tips soaking, you may use the solution on them as well. Make sure the pads don’t have any material peeling off them. 

Some detergents are way too harsh, so try it first on a tiny section of the pad before using it on the whole pad.

After using detergent and warm water to remove the odor from your headphones, dry them with a microfiber towel. It’s crucial to drain every drop of liquid so that nothing gets back into your headphones. Before moving on to the next step, place the pads or earbud tips in front of a fan for some minutes.

4. Clean the Cables and Wires

Many individuals just clean the interior of their headphones, ignoring the wires and cable connectors. Despite the fact that they don’t gather much sweat, the filth and grime that has accumulated over time might wear them down. You don’t want to use clean and fresh headphones yet have unclean, damaged cables.

Fortunately, this is the simplest aspect of the procedure. All you have to do is wipe the cables and jack from top to bottom with a clean, dry microfiber cloth. It won’t take long, but it will significantly improve the quality of your headphones. They’ll have a better appearance and feel, and they’ll last longer.

5. Wipe Your Headphones with Wet Wipes

It’s also simple to clean the exterior of your headphones and earbuds to get rid of the odor. Use rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, or wet wipes to clean the area. Surface dirt and smells trapped in the plastic may be removed with small, gentle circular strokes. Test a tiny area once again to make sure it doesn’t stain or leave streaks.

If you don’t want to use wet wipes or rubbing alcohol, a soft cloth and warm water may be used instead. According to many people, water is more than capable of cleaning headphones; however, it may not be able to eliminate the odor.

How Do I Remove the Yellow Stains from My Earphones?

If you use lemon oil or hair spray to seal the plastic after it has dried, lemon oil and hair spray may help it look brand new again! Simply use your hands to rub a tiny quantity of each substance (lemon oil or hair spray) into the earpads. Cover all of the surfaces in a circular motion (including bends).

If you’re not using lemon oil or hair spray, gently clean any visible stains on plastic surfaces using a moist microfiber cloth soaked with water. Scrubbing too vigorously might scratch the plastic.

How to Prevent Your Headphones from Getting Dirty

Dirt is a prevalent contaminant in the environment that harms biological surfaces. The following are some suggestions for keeping them clean:

1. Use a Carrying Case to Store the Headphones

If you’re one of those people who like to have everything in one place, a carrying case may be incredibly useful. Stacking all of your electrical goods on top of one another can save space and reduce clutter.

It’s critical to store headphones in a closed case after you’ve stopped using them. This will help keep dust off the headphones and protect them from sun damage, which may lead to cracking or other degradation of the fabric earpads over time.

2. Use Silica Gel to Suck Moisture

Headphones may get filthy and smelly over time. That is why silica gel should be used to keep them dry!

When it’s time to listen, just place your earphones in the case with some big cotton balls or tiny pieces of fleece lining—not only will they absorb any stray moisture, but they’ll also keep dirt out while protecting your ears from hearing loss caused by high sound pressure levels. 

If you want something long-lasting, waterproof Bluetooth devices provide protection without losing music quality.

3. Proper Storage

The durability, smell, and quality of your headphones all depend on how well you store them. If you leave them knotted in a corner or in the kitchen, they’ll get coated with food particles and disintegrate way faster than they should. Those who use or keep headphones in the restroom are subject to the same rules.

Hanging your headphones on the wall to allow them to breathe is maybe the best option. Moisture and germs on your headphones may evolve into the mildew, mold, and bad odors if there isn’t enough airflow.

READ MORE! Why do my Bluetooth Earbuds Make My Ears Itch? (Solved!)

Important Precautions to Consider While Cleaning Your Headphones

  • If you’re cleaning your headphones, make sure they’re unplugged first. This is to prevent power-related mishaps. It’s also a good idea to remove the ear pads with care since they’re delicate. 
  • If the earbuds aren’t detachable, clean them gently while they’re still attached to the headphones.
  • When it comes to cleaning, certain headphones have specific needs. Specific instructions are included with such products. Consequently, cleaning headphones that come with particular instructions may need extra effort.
  • If your headsets come with unique instructions, it’s critical that you follow them precisely as the manufacturer recommended.

How Often Should You Clean Your Headphones

The answer to that question is dependent on how often you wear headphones. Cleaning them once a week is good if you use them for many hours each day. This prevents them from becoming stinky and filthy.

Furthermore, if you wear headphones while exercising, you must wash them off with a microfiber cloth after each session.

If you don’t use your headphones every day, say 2-3 times a week, cleaning them once every two weeks is sufficient. Cleaning your headphones once a month is OK if you don’t use them very often and they haven’t been exposed to sweat.

READ MORE! Can I wear Bluetooth Headphones in the Shower? (Solved!)

Final Thoughts

Cleaning your headphones is crucial, as I have explained in this article, not only to keep your headphones in good shape but also for the health of your ear. There’s no excuse to keep your headphones unclean now that you know how to clean them and get rid of the odor. 

It’s time to put your foot down and spend a few minutes maintaining them in excellent shape, whether you’re weary of the earwax and sweat buildup or want to get rid of the smells and stains.

Espen is the Director of ProPairing


Espen is the Director of ProPairing and has written extensively about Bluetooth devices for years. He is a consumer product expert and has personally tested Bluetooth devices for the last decade.

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